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Cassava production a promising venture for Pinoy farmers

Due to its huge potential market, cassava production is a promising agribusiness venture for Filipino farmers.

In an interview over Tingog sa Kaumahan a radio program of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 13 aired over DXMK Magik FM Butuan, Dr. Candido Damo, Cassava Project Leader under GMA Corn Program who recently visited Caraga Region during the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) training revealed that cassava production in the country haven't meet yet the demand of the market thus opportunity still awaits to the farmers.

He said that based on five year projected demand established during the recently held National Cassava Stakeholders Meeting, the demand for the current year 2010 pegged at 5 million metric tons and expected to increase to 10 metric tons by 2014.

"Sa ngayon base sa production natin noong 2009, nagsusuplay lang tayo mga 46% of the demand, so malaki pa talaga yung market potential in terms of local consumption natin (As of 2009 production, we are only supplying about 46% of the current demand, so there's still huge market potential)," he said.

Due to the gap between cassava production and the demand, some of the processors import supplies from other countries such as Thailand to fill in their requirements.

However, Dr. Damo expressed optimism that pinoy farmers could meet the demand of the industry due to positive status of cassava production in the country that continually surge in terms of volume production brought by increased area planted and yield per unit area.

"Sa ngayon meron na tayong 2.04 thousand MT na production sa cassava at tumaas din yung yield level from 8 to 9.7 MT per hectare now", he revealed.

Aside for human consumption, about 80% of cassava production goes to feed formulation by feed millers as ingredients for animals and aqua feeds.

To boost production in the country, the Department of Agriculture through the GMA Corn Program wherein cassava is a sub-project, give focus on the commodity through the three major interventions.

Firstly, according to Dr. Damo is mass propagation of new varieties with high yield potential. "We already started mass propagation of planting materials on these varieties in 16 regional field units of DA wherein this could be sources of the farmer organizations as starting planting materials in their respective areas.

Secondly, "we provides post harvest equipments such as cassava chipper or cassava granulator to cut short processing time and thirdly we are busy conducting trainings on our regional staff, local government units extension workers and farmer leaders and also we are reproducing leaflets or techno-guides to transfer to them new technologies", Dr. Damo narrated.

He is also hopeful that the five year plan will be approved to give more focus on cassava industry in the country incorporating the research and development (R&D) component.

"Kasi alam natin marami pa tayong kailangang pag-aralan para lalong mapaganda ang cassava production sa Pilipinas (Because we all know that there are numerous factors that needs to be studied to further boost up cassava production in the Philippines", he said.

For farmers whether individual or organized cassava growers who would like to take part of the project, Dr. Damo urged them to visit their nearest DA Regional Offices and look for the regional corn coordinators or the regional cassava focal person to shed light on them on the particular interventions that they could get out of the program.

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